by Robyn Yager | Kildare Curtis has carried some of the highest quality international and Canadian designers at Eugene Choo since it opened 2000. His shop is at 3683 Main Street with its extension, The Annex, located right next door specializing in accessories, bags, and seriously beautiful shoes. Here are 10 wants from a recent pass…
1. Fleet Objects Drop Necklace and Bracelet | Inspired by the floats and bobbers of fishing equipment, this line (no pun) by Fleet Objects is a colourful and minimal way to incorporate colour through accessories. The pendants are products of Zoe Garred’s design studio in Vancouver, where she uses natural materials to make objects that speak of an abstract aesthetic in function and form. You might also recognize some of her other work at Chinatown’s Bestie (her hanging Mariner Lamps are gorgeous).
2. Eliza Faulkner wool skirt | Eliza Faulkner’s repertoire included the likes of Erderm, Zandra Rhodes, and Roland Mouret prior to her launching her eponymous line in 2012. The designer was born and raised on Vancouver Island and trained in London at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design. Pleats are huge this season, so zero in on this wool skirt in red and wear it with a cream cropped cable knit sweater, black tights, and black pumps.
3. Valentine Gauthier gold leather weaved flats | Metallic is basically a neutral these days. Gold, silver, copper, rose gold – anything goes. These gold leather weaved flats are no exception and would look amazing with just about any outfit. They’re retro in the weaving (some may even say nursie), but the colour modernizes them plenty. Gauthier’s resume includes lines at Rochas and Maison Martin Margiela, experience that makes for a feminine line with classic masculine twists.
4. Noah Waxman green leather desert boots | For guys, how beautiful are these green Noah Waxman leather desert boots? Again, footwear is a fantastic way to up the winter wardrobe ante without being too obnoxious about it. Noah Waxman is a footwear specialist who learned from master craftsmen in Amsterdam who instilled in the young shoemaker the highest respect for what it takes to make beautiful, comfortable and handcrafted footwear.
5. Strathcona Stockings | Who doesn’t love an insane printed tight or stocking? We’re not talking regular prints like the ubiquitous cat print or skull print, we’re talking tropical birds, lilies and avocados, mushrooms, peaches and the beautifully illustrated Mary Jane. If we have to wear tights in this cold and wet weather why not sport something more interesting? Every print from Strathcona Stockings are original – designed, collaged, photographed or drawn at the studio in Strathcona or on various travels. All products are made locally and in limited quantities. Ryley O’Byrne is behind the brand. Her prints have been featured in StyleBubble, Vogue Italia, New York Magazine, Elle UK, Nylon Magazine and all over the web and back. Let these tights and stockings be the statement piece in the outfit (because nothing says Vancouver more than weed on your feet).
6. Eliza Faulkner colour blocked silk dress | Another piece by Eliza Faulkner. It’s a very elegant and conservative dress that transitions well from day to night. The detachable rope belt can be used to cinch the waist or can be removed for a more draped effect. The knee length makes it a Vancouver-appropriate piece as we longingly await spring.
7. Comrags Thwaites dress | The Quartz Border Thwaites Dress by Joyce Gunhouse and Judy Cornish of Comrags is more like a piece of art than a dress, and more reminiscent of a green spring day than of the holidays that have just passed. This is what happens when two Canadian designers with the same design sensibility and work ethic come together. The company, born in 1983, is still based out of Toronto where their designs boast of “femininity with an edge”.
8. Oliver Spencer men’s colour blocked t-shirt | Tired of the usual black and neutral winter wardrobe? This Oliver Spencer jersey t-shirt is an awesome way to incorporate colour into the otherwise drab assortment of current winter wear. A modern British brand, Oliver Spencer is inspired by hunting and military clothing, Americana and Japanese style, and Sandy Powell, the costume designer for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. Total British cool.
9. Dolce Vita pointed oxford flats | Despite our stated affections for stilettos, flats are trending on the fashion front right now. We’re not sure if it’s the masculine influence at play or if it’s just a matter of comfort, but these chic and functional pointed toe flats by Dolce Vita are a wicked addition to the shoe closet. Eugene Choo has them in an all-over black colour and a two-toned black and white oxford version. If you can, grab both!
10. Osei-Duro dress | Osei-Duro is a clothing company based out of LA and Ghana. These beautiful garments are made in Ghana using traditional hand-dyeing techniques and weaving. Each piece is made uniquely and by an individual who is given full acknowledgement for their work. This particular piece is colourful and appropriate for either the summer months paired with sandals or in the winter with a heavy wool coat, black tights, and boots.
Eugene Choo & The Annex | 3683 & 3697 Main Street | 604-873-8874 | www.EugeneChoo.com
by Robyn Yager | Jeff Hamada of the art blog Booooooom! has collaborated with Aritzia on a line of uniquely bold graphic tees. Aritzia approached Hamada to design something for their year-old t-shirt line, La Notte, and the result is a small collection of five pieces, each with a design exclusive to the brand. The collection is called Dream About Living The Dream - a “tongue in cheek celebration of being lazy, quitting, and not caring. It’s about wanting something, a certain lifestyle perhaps, but also not wanting to work for it”. The collection is only around for a short time (given the ample followings of both Jeff’s blog and Aritzia’s aesthetic, chances are that they’ll be snatched up quick). Read more about the collaboration here and buy them there.
by Robyn Yager | The history of the stiletto heel is a little complicated. From deadly weapon to cultural icon, everyone has had an opinion on the shoe style. They’re definitely not for everyone. Some may even scoff at the sight of a stiletto, regarding them as silly or straight up impractical. And yet despite valid debate on function, there’s an alluring beauty to a good, narrow heel. The line of the heel to the sole is attractive and even sexy. To some, it’s comparable to the way a gorgeous piece of architecture can inspire a feeling of awe.
The first high heels were worn by men on horseback (boots with a “high heel” were to gain extra traction in stirrups), but the “stiletto” heel came about in the 1930′s. It was named thus in reference to the Italian “stiletto” dagger of the Renaissance period, a fearsome weapon for personal protection and in close quarter combat. Made popular by designer Andre Perugia and French singer Mistinguett, the shoe was a product of “new technologies” in which a metal rod was used in the heel to reinforce its strength, thus allowing for a thinner, sleeker heel. Designer Roger Vivier took the style into the mainstream in the 1950′s, helping to advance the style beyond the runway and into the mainstream to become an iconic international fashion silhouette.
The idea behind the stiletto is that the diameter of the base of the heel is less than one centimetre. The heel can be of varying height, from kitten heel to the most high (those that accompany the platform, making walking nearly impossible). Eventually, the toe of the shoe was elongated to a point wherein the entire piece was referred to as a “stiletto”. In any event, the name is apt. There have been several instances in which a sharp high heel has been used to injure or attack another person.
Physically, the stiletto heel is a design that’s very difficult to get a hand (or foot) of at first. Like any high shoe, one must trust the heel. With the foot on a slant, walking in heels can make the wearer feel volatile and unbalanced, but the effects are clear. They elongate the leg and tighten the calf muscles to make them appear more slender, lending elegance to wearers who are now walking taller and, after some practise, with confidence
Today, the stiletto shape is used by nearly every designer every season for sandals, boots, or pumps. One of the most notable of the bunch is, of course, Manolo Blahnik, who has projected the style even deeper into the mainstream. Despite the more “frumpy shoe styles” as of late (here’s hoping the Birkenstock reveival stayed in 2013), the stiletto has secured itself in the fashion pantheon as a symbol of (potentially deadly) femininity and elegance.
Where you can find great stilettos in Vancouver | Because this shoe is so ubiquitous it takes a little bit of shopping around to find what suits your personal style the best. There is no store or boutique that sells “the best”, but there are some that make great starting points. As usual, Gravity Pope has some pretty hot shoes; from Acne to Fleuvog, they offer a plethora of options. The best way to find the perfect stiletto heel is to do some research. Because they’re so individual and they fit every foot differently, shopping around and trying on different brands and heights is worth the investment in time. They’re also not for the faint of heart or the easily vertiginous. First timers must keep in mind that the stiletto takes some getting used to and requires environments with consistently even surfaces. If you avoid grass, gravel, cracks in the sidewalk, and pretty much all of Gastown (their most diabolical of enemies being the cobblestone), you’ll be fine. If not, make this your motto: “Walk tall and carry a pair of flats in your bag.”
Dig this short and whimsical retro film called ABC of Fashion from i-D Magazine. It sees two beautiful women, Quebec’s Anais Pouliot and Brazil’s Marina Nery, spinning on pedestals and modelling a kaleidoscope of fashions to a new and rather catchy Sesame Street-ish track from Toro Y Moi.
by Robyn Yager | There are times when artistic interpretations of fashion completely outshine the things that make up fashion itself. In this video, Australian artist CJ Hendry takes the iconic quilted Chanel flap bag and reinterprets it in an achingly beautiful and detailed illustration on paper (via). At first your heart breaks when the spray paint hits the leather, but by the end you appreciate her version over the real object. Hendry similarly transforms Gucci shoes, Oxfords, boots, and other fashion items into 1.4 meter images.
1. Etsy’s Industrial Revolution | The world of DIY and vintage has become a viable market for craft lovers and those preferring to purchase items with some hand-made flair. Etsy, the world’s vintage/craft epicentre, recently announced an upcoming change in policy that backpedals on everything they built their business on. A recent New York Times article states that the company is facing the same issue that led to the Industrial Revolution. Ultimately, it’s not Etsy’s policy change that is questioned, but rather what exactly defines something as “hand made”. It makes for an interesting read about the future of the craft industry in e-commerce as well as our changing appreciation for artisanal products.
2. Park Royal Re-Opens | November 30th marks the grand re-opening of the present mess of a construction site called Park Royal. Anthropologie, Sephora, Anne Taylor, J. Crew, and Zara are among the big name retailers set to be revealed there at the end of the month. So, expect more traffic, longer delays, and less parking in West Van than ever before come the holiday season!
3. Nicholas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton | The old assumption that the fashion industry is really incestuous is confirmed. Nicholas Ghesquiere, previously of the house of Balenciaga (which is now headed by that of Alexander Wang), moves to Louis Vuitton as creative director upon Marc Jacob’s departure. It is one of the biggest stories regarding high fashion this year and it will continue to be until the IPO for the Marc Jacobs line is released. Ghesquiere will hopefully “bring a new era to Vuitton in the same way he did at Balenciaga” (via Vogue UK)
4. Old Navy opens on Granville and Robson | Another giant chain moves onto Robson Street (and there wasn’t much rejoicing). Following the opening of Victoria’s Secret on Burrard and Robson, is anyone really surprised that the only store with enough dough to spend on Robson rent is a company that owns both The Gap and Banana Republic? Didn’t think so.
5. Hudson’s Bay Co. Jacket | As seen at the Grand Opening of Still Life on Main Street. Never goes out of style.
6. Isabel Marant for H&M | Why hasn’t my Instagram been flooded with boys and girls sporting the newest designer collaboration with H&M? This could be why: writer Alexander Fury claims that Isabel Marant is a “step down from the other talents H&M have tapped”. In other words, Isabel Marant doesn’t compare to the likes of Rei Kawakubo and Maison Martin Margela. However, her entry into the H&M designer collaboration hall of fame is not for her progressive designs; Marant is heralded for her knack of knowing who the modern French girl is and what she’ll be wearing. In any case, thanks to Fury, I don’t feel so bad for sleeping in on that fateful November 14th morning when the collaboration was launched.
7. The Bullet-Proof Suit | No, we’re not talking about an extra stylish suit to protect you from social media ridicule. We’re talking about an actual bulletproof suit made for super-heroes and gangsters. Garrison Bespoke in Toronto has launched a line made to withstand a spray of lead whilst looking dapper. The luxury tailoring house said, “after receiving requests from high-profile clients who travel to dangerous places for work, we went out to develop a lightweight, fashion-forward bulletproof suit as a more discreet and stylish alternative to wearing a bulky vest underneath”. So if you’re in the market for a good suit and you want to feel like Batman (and you have an extra 20 grand burning a hole in your pocket), consider a bulletproof suit by Garrison Bespoke. Oh, and it also protects against stabbing. Yay.
8. Black & White Acre Projects | A minimal black and white outfit as seen at the Acre Projects Fashion Show last month.
9. Fur and striped jacket | Spotted at the Vancouver Public Library.
10 Leather and sparkle | Pair something harsh like a black jacket with a leather lapel with something more girly and feminine like a sparkle-embellished athletic sweater. This local girl pulled it off.
11. Polka Dots: This outfit is very Karen Walker Spring/Summer 2013, what with the light blue and white polka dot dress and white cropped blazer. As seen at Cavalier.
12. Obscenely Popular Shoes with Questionable Aesthetics Explained | It’s far too easy to adopt attitudes towards fashion trends and styles because we see it in popular media. Attraction towards something because someone else is wearing it seems perfectly natural but we’re just not entirely sure WHY we like it. Thanks to Bullett Media, current shoe trends and styles are analyzed from an outside perspective, completely disconnected from the blogs and magazines that influence taste. Give it a read; it’s funny because it’s true.
13. Cat Dress | Quirky prints and a coffee make an outfit more interesting. Seen at Revolver.
14. Damien Hirst for Alexander McQueen | Damien Hirst has launched a capsule collection with Alexander McQueen. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of McQueen’s iconic skull scarf (emulated everywhere), the artist has created 30 different styles ranging from the Forgiveness scarf featuring butterflies in various colours and other flying insects surrounding a prominent skull image in the centre, to the purple Perfect Moment scarf with scattered butterflies joining in the middle to make up a skull image. The pairing of these two visionaries is perfect; they share an aesthetic that is dark, eerie, and mystical. The collection launched Friday and is available at Alexander McQueen boutiques. (via T Magazine)
15. Must See Fashion Documentaries | Rainy days call for spending much-needed time inside watching movies. This weekend, consider skipping that Lord of the Rings marathon and take it upon yourself to brush up on your fashion history. Check out this list of “Must See Fashion Documentaries” care of The Style Spy. Not included in the list (but very worthy of your time) is the Yves Saint Laurent documentary, L’Amour Fou and the biopic starring Andrey Tatou as Coco Chanel in Coco Avant Chanel.
16. Must follow Vancouver fashion blog: Style is Style | If there’s one thing I love, it’s a girl who can rock a style no matter the era. Lydia, of Style is Style, can sport anything from thrifted items and adorable boat hats to full A-Line skirts, oxford shoes, and vintage blouses. She’s got a thing for colour and she’s incredible at mixing prints, plus she has a talent for thrifting. So, to say that we should take a few style notes from Lydia would be a severe understatement. We should do ourselves a favour and take a lot.
17. Woody Allen | Woody looking like he’s waiting for a girl to try on a new dress at Oliver & Lilly’s new location near Beaucoup Bakery.
18. Toques & Muted Colours | Restrained colours are popular this winter; stick to more muted tones like beige, caramel, black, rusty red, and white. Toques, natch, are a staple.
19. Black Patent Heels | Spotted in Gastown – a pair of black patent leather oxford heels, perfect for the season.
Robyn Yager is the style reporter for Scout Magazine. She is enthused by anything out of the ordinary, loving art, striped shirts, macchiatos, classic literature and picking through thrift stores for unique treasures. Her mission is to inspire Vancouverites in their sartorial choices and to see beauty and style everywhere.
by Robyn Yager | Do you ever find yourself standing in front of your closet, staring at clothes that seldom make the rotation? Do they haunt you because you know you have the need to get rid of them, but you just can’t find it in your heart (or your wallet) to simply give them away or donate them? Have you had previous problems with consignment shops, returning to the store only to find that only a portion of your items have sold and the gamble you took on lugging all of your old items in feels barely worth it? Well, we have found a store for you that can cure all of the above concerns.
Jigme Nehring is the founder of the new Mine & Yours Co., a carefully curated women’s resale shop (not to be confused with a consignment store) located at 1060 Hornby Street. What sets it apart from other stores is that they offer 30% up-front in cash on your items.
After spending the summer collecting inventory, they opened just a few weeks ago. Pieces in their current collection range from low-end to high-end (ie. from Topshop to Chanel). In addition to offering an extraordinary assortment of garments, they also get the community involved creating and fostering relationships with Vancouver’s talented stylists, bloggers, and local celebrities.
The Mine & Yours team is made up of three extremely smart and stylish women – Jigme Nehring (founder), Joanna Chaffin (buyer), Courtney Watkins (partner) – and each of them bring a broad knowledge of art, fashion, and business to the table. Check out the shop for some super nice wares that have been edited and pared down to only the best of the best. The prices are friendly, too, plus buying preloved and knowing you can swap it out later for something different is motivation in itself.
“We don’t really have any criteria when we take clothes from people, but of course we like things to be on-trend and in season,” says Chaffin. ”We also encourage people to come in with an accumulation of clothing, as opposed to one or two things. That way, as the seller, you get your money’s worth.”
The shop is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11-7pm.
by Robyn Yager | If you don’t have a trusty fall coat by now, have no fear – there’s still plenty of time and places to find one. Sourced from some of the best boutiques and shops around town here is an all-encompassing list of must have outerwear for the season. This list features coats all across the spectrum, from the trench coat to the leather jacket as well as a few more unusual pieces in between to keep you dry, toasty, and looking awesome.
1. Coloured Statement Jacket | Pink is having an unusual moment in this season’s fashions. And not just any pink. We’re talking about the pale blush variety that we’re more likely to associate with early spring. In a sea of dark colours that we’re prone to see walking the streets of Vancouver this time of year, what better way to stand out than to wear something less solemn? This Maison Scotch wool throw coat found over at Cordova’s Today You Are Special is the perfect piece to pull this trend off. The shape is reminiscent of those large, over-sized felt jackets Rei Kawakubo designed for Commes Des Garcons, but they’re more approachable. The lovely peach pink colour is on trend, but it holds some warmer tones, which makes it a little more appropriate for fall. It’s also the perfect length with exaggerated shoulders so you can wear it over layers and still look graceful.
2. The Parka | A Canadian classic, this jacket is not for the faint of heart. It will always keep you warm. People turn to it when all else fails and your patience with trying to layer and still look great has diminished. Thankfully, all style doesn’t have to go out the window when choosing to wear a parka – there are lots of great looking options that will make you feel like you’re living in a sleeping bag without looking like you are. Still Life on Main Street has really great options with brands like Canada Cross, Ganni, and Fjall Raven. I love this Canada Cross Miramichi parka with its contrasted fabric detailing on the sleeves and hood. It’s a puffy jacket without being too much of a puffy jacket (due to the cargo jacket-like front). It also gives off the mild impression of a Soviet spy, which is dead sexy. Still Life also carries parkas for men like this beige and black Dawson jacket (also from Canada Cross), which is similar to a standard down jacket but with more structure and sophistication. Feel free to wear this type of jacket over anything. If it’s really that cold, no one will judge you!
3. Boyfriend Jacket | Men can officially stop worrying about us sneakily (or not so sneakily) “borrowing” their cozy outerwear. Since the inception of “boyfriend-style”, this look has been available in nearly everything from button-up shirts and jeans to even last summer’s loose-fitting oversized shorts. For this season, we’re coveting the “boyfriend jacket”. Its allure is its casual quality. It can be worn with everything. It suits an everyday look or can be thrown over something more formal. The effect is chic insouciance, only heavy on the warmth. You can find some great pieces at Gravity Pope, particularly the Chalayan wool-blend, thigh-length coat. The trick with such exaggerated outerwear is to pair it with something slender and sleek on the bottom like slim fitting pants with a minimal boot.
4. Trench Coat | Such a classic piece! The trench coat is often advertised in the spring, but it’s a coat that can be worn year round. What’s tricky about the trench is the warmth that it typically provides. Generally, they are made with a lighter fabric which is great for those warmer rainy months. However, you can find ones in heavier fabric that lets the wearer indulge in this classic shape for both spring and fall. A perfect example is this wool-blend trench in a gorgeous beige colour by Steven Alan at Oliver & Lilly’s. It’s a hybrid of trench coat and classic camel coat. Wear it over a pencil skirt and a white button-up with a pair of classic black pumps. Alternatively, try it with a pair of wide-legged denim pants and some Converse All-Stars.
5. The Varsity Jacket | The varsity jacket is for someone who enjoys a more casual style, doesn’t mind layering up, and has an appreciation for retro looks. It’s an iconic piece associated with high school athletics. The style has come back around but has been tweaked and updated for a more modern look, yet it’s still highly reminiscent of the original. For the guys, Board of Trade offers this cool varsity jacket by Mark McNairy. It’s modern yet vintage and an all-around great option in terms of casual outerwear. The piece uses the classic fabrics of tweed on the body and suede on the sleeves, yet the structure still remains largely inspired by sportswear. Ladies: see “boyfriend jacket”.
6. Camo Jacket | The camo jacket is something that never seems to go out of style. We thought it would back in the early 2000′s, but it has yet to leave our minds or our closets. The camouflage print offers a unique pattern and can even be considered a neutral (like a leopard print). According to Leighann Boquist of Oliver & Lilly’s, “you either love it or you hate it”. We’re pretty much loving it. When worn over a heavy knit sweater with a pair of jeans, the look is complete for a day grabbing coffee and heading to and from work. On the other hand, when paired with a little dress and tights, it dresses down the outfit making it appropriate to go from place to place, like a style passport. Check out Oliver & Lilly’s new location right next to Beaucoup Bakery for this fun women’s APC Army Jacket, as well as Gravity Pope for this Maison Kitsune option for men.
7. Rain Jacket | Everyone needs a good rain jacket in Vancouver. Unfortunately, few fit the style bill. In fact, rain jackets are notorious for compromising aesthetic for function. Finding something that can perform well under wet conditions and still look great should be a no-brainer, and it is with Dace. The fashion brand is a favourite in the city as the line is both designed and manufactured locally plus it’s the perfect expression of West Coast style. This Thomas waxed cotton rain coat is perfect for wearing over a cable knit sweater and jeans on the dampest of days. It comes in three colours, but our favourite is this deep green.
8. Leather Jacket | The leather jacket is a staple in the fall closet and it’s the most bad-ass of all your outerwear options. It typically alludes to motorcycles, rock and roll, and rebellion, but it can also keep you super cozy. Mackage is Canada’s ground zero for the ultimate leather jacket. It has become one of the most prestigious outerwear brands in North America. Based in Montreal and New York, the company prides itself on creating pieces that are sexy, modern, and chic. Blubird on Alberni carries a variety by the label, from the classic leather motorcycle jacket in black to pieces that are more along unconventional lines. A personal favourite is this bright orange number with shearling lapel. The colour is spot on for fall, plus it adds some much needed colour in a cold weather wardrobe that usually leans towards darker hues. Although the colour is a bit tricky to pull off, the shearling lapel tones down its intensity. Wear it with dark denim, a basic white t-shirt and a pair of sneakers and you have the perfect weekend outfit.
9. The Fancy Blazer | Sometimes you just need that stand-out jacket that will keep you warm indoors when heavy outerwear is just too much. Consider an embellished blazer with a metallic pattern. Metallic fabrics are back this holiday season and have been seen in dresses, trousers, and shoes (even make-up). What better way to incorporate the trend into your wardrobe than in a fine smoking jacket by Canadian label Smythe? This gorgeous metallic jacket with velvet lapel is the perfect piece to layer over your party dress or used to take a day outfit into the night. Although it’s not likely to keep you warm walking around town, it’s light enough to be worn underneath at least a few of the options listed above. This one is purely for looks and it’s available atBlubird.
10. The Unconventional Jacket | Aside from all the fall trends of this season, one way to express your style through outerwear is to completely throw all popular styles out the window and try something unusual. Capes, for example, are fantastic pieces to have in one’s wardrobe. They are old-fashioned, beautiful, and elegant, plus they allow for more movement than a traditional jacket. Board of Trade carries their take on the cape, but this one by A Kind Of Guise incorporates some athleticism into the design. The German brand focuses on providing and manufacturing products that are “long-lasting with original ideas and great quality”. Their Cape Cool jacket is a double-faced navy blue wool garment inspired by the cape but with the addition of a high-rise collar, zipper closures and three-quarter length sleeves that make it a bit more contemporary while maintaining the traditional silhouette. Wear this over a neutral coloured thermal and a pair of black denim pants finished with your comfiest pair of durable boots.
by Robyn Yager | In Canada, plaid has long run especially rampant in Fall, but it’s also making a high fashion turn this season (see Hedi Slimane, Dries Van Noten, Stella McCartney, Celine, et al). As a “look”, it has traditionally been associated with lumberjacks, bros, Judd Nelson and Jordan Catalano, but it has roots that run much deeper than any contemporary trend or champion. Its origins are actually wrapped up in identity politics and fierce (and not so fierce) rebellions.
By definition, a “plaid” (from the Gaelic: “blanket”) is a garment worn as a singular piece of tartan fabric around the waist with one end tossed over the shoulder and fastened at the front. In North America, the descriptor is used interchangeably with “tartan” in reference to particular textile patterns. The word “tartan” is thought to come from the French word “tiretain” (from the verb tirer – “to draw”). The plaids/tartans that we’re familiar today consist “of cross horizontal and vertical bands in two or more colours in woven cloth”.
Tartans can be found in many cultures across the globe, but in Scotland, their specific colours and patterns represent clans, sects, families, and institutions. They were such a part of Highland identity that the English banned them as part of their strategy to bring the Scottish clans under their rule. The tartan was actually made illegal for an entire generation (1746-1982) via the infamous Dress Act. In the modern era, they are used to differentiate events, governing bodies, military groups, and so on, evoking pride and a sense of belonging.
Plaid and Canada are of course very close friends. Like it or not, from Bob and Doug Mackenzie to Don Cherry’s awful suits, the pattern is entrenched in our DNA, much like the toque. Canada even has an official tartan, as do each and every province (you can find those here).
In today’s fashions, tartan has become commonplace, usually in the form of button-up shirts, pants, skirts, or accessories (hello Burberry), but it first re-emerged as an expression of personal style in the rebellious and very anti-fashion punk subculture of the 1970′s, when the Royal Stewart tartan was worn in ripped shreds – a figurative middle finger to the civility of high British society. Vivienne Westwood is largely symbolic of this movement and has been incorporating tartans (as well as safety pins and bondage gear) into her designs since the beginning of punk. The pattern simmered in the 1980′s, particularly in film, alternating from prep (Sixteen Candles) to rebel (The Breakfast Club), before Marc Jacobs brought it back to the high-fashion forefront in 1992. He was no doubt inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s grunge movement, sending Doc Martens, flannels, and thermals down the runway. And so it seems that plaid will always says something about identity, and because of that it is one of those fashion facets that will always return with new meaning and something new to say.
Finding plaid in the city this time of year is easy. Walk down any fashion-forward, boutique-heavy street in Vancouver and you’re likely to cross a window display featuring the pattern in some form or another. For really great selections of plaids and flannels, check out Community Thrift & Vintage on Cordova for men and the Frock Shoppe on Carrall for women. Who knows, maybe one of the shirts you find belonged to a legitimate Canadian lumberjack at some point, with his best girl at his side…
by Robyn Yager | Tuesday night’s Young Oak + Park show at Eco Fashion Week opened with a stunning model whose hair was set in a high pseudo-French twist with long bangs pinned to the side. Her lips were painted bright red – head to toe old Hollywood mixed with femme fatale – and her sleeveless light grey double-breasted jacket was something Lauren Bacall would wear while strolling alongside Bogey after a day of shooting the next film noir. The outfit was paired with a black mid-thigh skirt and a pair of black opaque knee high stockings by Park. Oh, and black pumps. Wow! This outfit was the perfect way to start off another show at Vancouver’s 7th annual Eco-Fashion Week.
Next was a gorgeous over-sized wool houndstooth jacket with leather detailing on the lapel. Its three-quarter length sleeves allowed gave it elegance while the enormous pockets looked perfect for warming cold hands. Worn with a pair of white tights, the look was young (consistent throughout the collection), evoking something of a childish quality that was offset by the maturity (even masculinity) of the heavy jacket. Hitting just around mid-thigh, the jacket would be ideal on a cold winter’s night (no bulky layers).
I also loved the luxurious black velvet outfits that ranged from jumpsuits to cocktail dresses. Their billowing sleeves – some lace, others sequin – made me long for those dark days of December when holiday/cocktail parties dot the calendar. The pieces were demure but with just the right amount of sexy, the styling allowing for slivers skin by way of crop tops or a deep scoop neck in the back. Each was fitted to flatter.
As the last of the velvet outfits made their way down the runway, a battery of shine and glitter took their place, starting with a metallic gold sleeveless a-line minidress with an empire waist. A shimmering gold shift dress followed with an Art Deco-inspired pattern and tassel falling beneath the bust. It was a dress that the Daisy Buchanans of the world would desire, revealing Tammy’s inclination towards the classics – all simplicity with touches of glamour. Sequins travelled down the next three dresses where one black shift with sheer overlay on the skirt was embellished with a burst of gold and black sparkle at the neck that extended down in vertical lines like the tail ends of falling fireworks.
I’m not sure if the outfits were inspired by the Jazz Age (a style shockingly not yet tired by this year’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby) or if it was just a case of Tammy’s immense assortment of collected vintage coming from that era, but one thing was very clear: her ability to reinvent old clothes by incorporating traditionally glamorous materials was enough to make one want to cover up, slather on the best red lipstick, adorn cold shoulders with fur (or faux) and fantasize about being in the company of Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
The show ended with a white sequinned dress that could only be described as exquisite. The top of the dress was vertically beaded, the effect gradually dissipating down the length of the skirt in lines that dropped off the long skirt in clusters. Paired with flats (a charming complement to the dress’ ankle length), it conjured visions of Marlene Dietrich or Lilian Gish. That dress – moving wispily down the runway – was the perfect last look.
1. These boots. (Native Jimmy Plaid Shoes) | Before it gets really nasty out, it would be wise to grab a good, sturdy pair of boots. These holiday edition Natives are the perfect pair to add to your shoe collection. With their warm plaid lining and waterproof exterior, they are bound to keep your feet toasty and dry for the winter. Get a pair over at the new Still Life boutique on Main Street or find the original Jimmy boot on the Native Shoes website.
2. This book. (Seeking Love, Finding Overalls) | You’ve seen her blog and most likely seen her picture. You might have even met her, but Leandra Medine’s newest work is definitely something any Man Repeller fan, fashion lover, and even humour-appreciating reader should read. Many of the essays in the book sub-titled Seeking Love, Finding Overalls are inspired by stories that Medine has touched on in her posts, but they offer more insight and thought provoking prose than before, giving reasons as to how and why her experiences have helped her get to where she is now. Her notorious and crude asides make for a book that is inspiring, funny, and an all around entertaining read on being a girl and finding your way through the fashion world.
3. This nailpolish. (OPI Dating a Royal) | Bring on the dark colours! Gone are neons and pastels! Yup, it’s time to whip out the big guns with hues of grey, deep reds, and of course, navy blue. This beauty was found at a local Winner’s; the perfect nailpolish to bring in Fall.
4. This jewelry line. (Army of Rokosz) | Army of Rokosz jewelry, designed and handcrafted in Vancouver, epitomizes individuality. With inspiration drawn from “environmental observations and childhood memories [these pieces] bridge an East Van perspective with a suburban adolescence”. Available at Cavalier on West Hastings.
5. This service. (Garmentory.com) | There’s no denying it – getting something gorgeous on sale beats the heck out of paying full price for it. If you share this shopping ideology you’re going to love this service. Garmentory.com lets you shop the sale racks of local boutiques and designers from the comfort of your couch, bed, or wherever else you enjoy online shopping. Vancouver boutiques such as Oliver and Lilly’s, One of a Few, Today You Are Special, and Holly all have a stake in the site, as well as a few south of the border from Portland and New York. So, support some local shops, get a deal, and grab some gorgeous new fall pieces – all in one place.
Robyn Yager is the style reporter for Scout Magazine. She is enthused by anything out of the ordinary, loving art, striped shirts, macchiatos, classic literature and picking through thrift stores for unique treasures. Her mission is to inspire Vancouverites in their sartorial choices and to see beauty and style everywhere.
by Robyn Yager | For me, the big takeaways from this year’s Vancouver Fashion Week (just passed) at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown were the Spring/Summer 2014 womenswear collection from Mexican designer Angela Reyna, the line from Peruvian fashion designers El Closet De Mi Hermania, and the gorgeous shodding from footwear designers Warmi. The catwalk was a revolver of international talent that saw Reyna playing with volume, vibrant colours, and unconventional materials, El Closet De Mi Hermana’s pieces focusing on loungewear, daywear, evening wear and outerwear (in lace, sheer fabrics, whites and pastels), and the shoes! Oh my god, the shoes!
by Robyn Yager | An outfit for a weekend in Gibson’s: thrifted magenta short-sleeved top, thrifted white shorts, navy blue Superga sneakers, 3.1 Phillip Lim floral Scout bucket bag, oversized Ray Bans, navy blue OPI nailpolish in Dating a Royal, Marc Jacobs lipstick in Neo Noir, and a weekend media literacy read, The Age Of Persuasion: How Marketing Ate Our Culture.